This is the last gospel coaching session, #10
This may be the hardest session to believe yet, so hang on. Although, as a P.S., there is one last section on closing thoughts, if you choose to read it.
I often refer to the gospel as ‘the great equalizer.’ When Christianity is viewed from the foot of the cross of Jesus, we are all equals. A slogan I have is: JESUS is the Carpenter, but we are all Carpenter’s helpers. This is the reality of things. As Paul says, Jesus is the head and we’re just some part of his body — it doesn’t really matter what part.
There is really no difference between us with regard to race, or color of our skin. In Galatians Paul says there is no difference between slave or free (there are still slaves in places in the world today). There is no difference between Jew and Gentile. There is no difference with regard to education and training or letters after our name.
This Is A Parenthesis: The Head vs. the Heart
In fact, I have found folks without a lot of education are easier to talk to about the gospel than people with degrees. Often people with letters after their name have so much head power, and so many formed objections to anything other than what they believe, it’s hard to reach the heart. The gospel is a matter of both the head and the heart, but if the heart is defensive, the heart just sits idle watching.
We know the heart is what looks at (I Sam 16:7), and he wants it filled with his gospel grace (Heb 13:9). Why does he want it filled with gospel grace? It’s because what is in the heart comes out of us in our actions (Col 1:5-6). Proverbs says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”
So the heart is of primary concern. But do you know what? Our hearts won’t accept anything that our minds reject. If you try to tell your heart the moon is made out of green cheese, but your mind knows better, the heart will not accept what you try to feed it. This is why TRUST IN GOD is so important. If we trust him, our hearts receive what he says as truth, even if our minds don’t totally get it.
Most of the Gospel is “According to Paul”
Paul wrote over 1/2 of the New Testament. Paul was given the revelation of the gospel by both Jesus in the desert (Gal 1:12-18), and by Abba Father God in a special conference in heaven (II Cor 12:1-4). Jesus knew he still had a lot to tell us, and said so in John 16:12, declaring we could not receive it then (we couldn’t until after the cross, and even then it’s hard). So Paul was appointed to affirm and defend the gospel (Phil 1:7).
According to Paul, there is no difference between men and women. This is true although in religion and in a lot of churches, men wear the pants and women are subservient. Also, there is no difference with regard to age, although young people are often viewed as being lesser because they haven’t been Christians as long, and don’t have the education older people have. This is a fallacy!
The fact is God doesn’t care if we’re 13 (the common legal age of reason), or if we are 103, and have warmed a pew for decades.
And God doesn’t care if we’ve warmed a pew for 40 years, or only 4 months — or have stood behind a pulpit for 40 years, or only 4 months. We are all the same in his eyes.
Young Hearts Are Often More Open to the Gospel
What I have found in sharing the gospel is that the hearts of young people are usually more open to it than are more mature adults. Young people often receive deeper revelation of the gospel. Truth of the gospel of grace received a type of ‘new birth’ in the 1980s and 1990s, which partially explains this. My own ‘new birth’ was in 1990. Older people often have closed minds to new things. Young people’s minds are open to new things. Adults should learn from their kids!
Can We Truly Love Others Who Are Not Equal to Us?
What I have discovered is that the answer to this question is NO! The fact is that we cannot truly LOVE others, at least the way God wants us to, unless they are EQUAL to us. Now I want you to follow me on this.
FIRST, if someone has not attained the life you have, and you look down on them and consider them beneath you, then you cannot truly love them. You can help them, and try to impact them positively to become more. You can give them money, or give them a job, or pray for them, or have compassion for them. You can do all sorts of nice things for them and help them become better and rise to higher ground – to become more like you.
But you can’t truly love them because they are beneath you. They are not on your level. They are not your equal!
SECOND, now let’s put the shoe on the other foot. If you perceive someone as having attained more than you have, and consider them above you, then they’re not your equal, so you can’t really love them. This may be due to wealth, age, possessions, sex, an official capacity like being a pastor or leader, or any other consideration. You can look up to them and respect and honor them for their accomplishments. You can mimic or mirror them and copy them. You can even ‘brown nose them,’ as it is called, and even ask them to help you.
But you can’t truly love them because they are above you. They are not on your level. They are not your equal.
God Sees Us All As Being Equal in Jesus
In the gospel, none are better than others. Paul says it is even stupid to compare ourselves with others (II Cor 10:2). We are all on the same playing field and we don’t have any hard-and-fast positions. Again, we’re part of Christ’s body, but which part? We are all one and the same at the foot of the cross.
The gospel is what causes us to truly love others, because it is what allows us to see everyone else as equal to ourselves.
God knows how many hairs we have on our head, but I also think God only sees TWO people in the world even though there are close to 7 BILLION of us. Remember Jesus says God sees us as all being ONE in him, in unity with him, and ONE with each other. We are ALL his church, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ. So he sees us as one:
(1) Those who are in Christ,
(2) Those who are not in Christ.
In a New Testament gospel type of thinking, I think God sees two types of Christians:
(1) Those who believe and live his gospel truth,
(2) Those who do not believe and live his gospel truth.
Paul speaks to this. He sees Christians in two ways, and speaks of:
(1) Saints, which means they are born again and saved,
(2) Those who are ‘faithful in Christ Jesus,’ faithful to his gospel.
So Many Choose Other Things to Live By
Many Christians live in something other than gospel truth and reality. In fact, Gallop Polls says this is true of over 90% of the body of Christ, if their polls are accurate. If you do live gospel truth, it doesn’t take more than two minutes max of a spiritual type discussion to discern where someone else is at, and if they have any revelation of gospel reality, or are just living in some type of type theology, denominational structure or personal concoction.
They live by religion and law. This is true of Catholics, but also of many Protestant denominations. I used to attend a Charismatic church that almost worshiped faith (I mentioned them in the introduction). It was legalistic in the way in which you had to live by faith. Any wrong word brought condemnation, which is born in law.
I call this ‘McDonald’s McChurchianity.’ They do business around four things: (1) quality, (2) service, (3) value, and (4) cleanliness.
Others live by some preaching they heard from some preacher who had been educated in a cemetery — excuse me, a seminary — and did not know the abundant life of the gospel. Or they read a theology that appealed to them, or they invented and concocted their own beliefs.
I call this ‘Burger King Churchianity,’ because theirs is a loose way of doing business and their slogan is ‘Have it your way.’
Many Christians think: “Whatever I believe is good enough for me.” It’s like kids being schooled today with no absolutes. Everything is relative and whatever they think is great. It is all subjective, and nothing is based on a higher law. It’s not so much that they are immoral, but it’s that they are amoral — they don’t have morals, either good or bad..
The bottom line is that God looks at our hearts (I Sam 16:7). Is a heart filled with good gospel of grace type things (Heb 13:9)? Does the person trust him enough to believe and obey him when he says to believe and live his gospel? Paul says not all obey the gospel (Rom 10:16). When we don’t live the gospel, we live in All the Light We Do Not See.
We Either Live in SELF, or We Live in the SPIRIT
There is so much said in the Bible about flesh, self, and living in self righteousness (we talked about this in session #7). This was born with Eve in the Garden who wanted to be like God. This was a flesh-oriented rebellion. When we focus on us, it might be called ‘The Tree of Self,’ as I said I nicknamed The Tree of Knowledge. I said earlier, Paul describes this in Romans 1:25 when he says that our tendency is to worship and serve the CREATURE (US) rather than the CREATOR. This is modern day idolatry.
Self is drawn to ‘the wisdom of man,’ which Paul says deceives us with enticing words (Col 2:4, I Cor 2:4). Enticement believes we can get something from God by means of what we do. Our flesh is drawn to it because it puts our flesh in control, and our ambition can dominate. This causes people to turn away from God when he doesn’t give them what they ask in prayer. SELF will always win over SPIRIT, if we are not subject to the gospel, or to something else that moves us!
When we live in the Spirit, we listen to the Spirit. The Spirit tells us the things that Jesus says, and that we should live by them or be judged for not doing so (John 12:48). The Holy Spirit speaks the same gospel truth that Jesus spoke. He is very focused on the mind of Christ that we are given if we CHOOSE to submit to it (I Cor 2:16). He tells us we must be ONE with Jesus, and not off doing our own thing.
The Spirit tells us all the free things that are ours in Christ (I Cor 2:12). The gospel is what tells us all the free things that are ours. He leads us to possess all these free gospel things in us by proclaiming them as true. This is what grows our faith (Philemon 6). Hebrews 10:23 tells us to hold fast to this profession of our faith. The Holy Spirit leads us to live in God’s love and grace (receive and respond), and then release to others.
Jesus Calls Us His Friends
‘Friends’ is not just a casual expression of friendship, like we think of friends. To God, it is a COVENANT expression that means oneness. In covenant we are made ONE with God. This is equality God has given us as a gift. This is the equality Adam and Eve wanted in the Garden: “I shall be like God.” But in the gospel, he gives this to us freely. He has given us equality with himself that is almost impossible for us to believe and receive. It defies human reasoning, especially if you view God as being ‘up there somewhere.’
Jesus says, “I do not call you servants; for a servant does not know what his lord does: but I call you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you” (John 15:15). What does God the Father make known unto Jesus? He tells him the message of the gospel that Jesus came to give to us that was predicted to Moses (Deut 18:15-19). It is nothing other than the GOSPEL.
Jesus Became Us and We Were Raised with Him
Hebrews says that Jesus, our High Priest, BECAME US. Wow, that’s a mouthful! But if Jesus is truthful in saying he became one with us (session #9), then this makes perfect sense. I believe it, Lord! I’m a believer!
Then we are told in Ephesians that Christ has raised us up, and has made us sit with him in heaven, even while we are still here walking this earth. It’s a lot for the mind to grasp, but again, this is why we are called ‘believers.’ Jesus says our JOB is to believe (John 6:29). We are to “Live by every (gospel) word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” which includes Jesus who is God in human flesh.
Really think about this (as it really applies to gospel aspect #7): If you ever truly believe that we have been raised up and made to sit with Christ in heaven, it will change absolutely everything you believe about spiritual warfare! It will reveal your total spiritual authority to you!
“As Jesus is, so are we in this world.” Where is Jesus right now? He is in heaven with the Father (John 16:10). In John 17 Jesus says he wants us to see him where he is and behold his glory. This isn’t a ‘heaven’ statement. In heaven we’ll be there to see it. This speaks about now.
Scripture says we are in the same place, at least according to the way God sees things. And don’t forget that Satan has no choice. He is not the counterpart to Jesus. Anything God says, he just doesn’t believe it – he knows it is true! WE may just have to believe it, but HE knows it!
Why do we have boldness in the day of judgment? (I John 4:17). It is because we are already there, in the eyes of God. If we are believers, even though we’re still here on earth, we’re the same as everyone else who is already in heaven (Eph 3:15). Jesus has already appeared in the presence of God on our behalf and has taken our judgment for us (Heb 9:24-26). That’s why he could declare, at the time he was going to be crucified, “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world (Satan) be cast out” (John 16:31).
This answers the question: “How can God forget our sin?” It has already been dealt with by Jesus. Again, it was crucified with him on the cross, but it didn’t resurrect with him.
We Are Even Included in Christ’s Own Body
Now, scripture says this in a variety of ways, but here it is stated so totally emphatic.
Ephesians 5:30 says we are part of Christ’s body – even his flesh and his bones. Just how much more ONE with God can you get, and thus be on an equal basis with him, than to be part of his body, his flesh and his bones?
Philippians Is Absolutely, Totally Amazing
Philippians 2:5-6 are almost unbelievable, even if you believe everything I’ve said so far. This makes you shake your head in awe, worship and wonder. And, by the way, I’ve never heard a preacher preach on this, or in any writing, recording or other medium.
Here Paul says, “Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.” Now this, isn’t so bad because we know we have the mind of Christ, even if we don’t always live in it (I Cor 2:16).
But then Paul continues, speaking of Jesus: “Who being in the form of God, did not think it robbery (or wrong) to be equal with God.”
Now, wait a minute! We know Jesus is equal with God. He says he and the Father are ONE. That much we can handle without even too much thought. But Paul says to also let this same thought be in US that was in Christ Jesus: it is not robbery (or wrong) to consider yourself equal with God.
When I said I’ve never heard a preacher preach on this, what I mean is they jump right over these words and go on to the next verse: Jesus made himself of no reputation, and humbled himself, and we should do the same thing. What they say is TRUE, but it’s not gospel TRUTH.
Everything in the Bible is true. If it weren’t true, it wouldn’t be in the Bible. But not everything is TRUTH. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). There was an INVASION of truth in the gospel!
Truth is Kingdom reality, not human earthly wisdom or theology.
This goes all the way back to the passage in Genesis that says we are made in the IMAGE of God. And this also goes back to the last truth we looked at that says we are ONE with God. How can you be one with God, and not be equal with him? Here it says we are in the FORM of God, which is like being in his image.
Now hear this! This is NOT saying that we are God, or even gods with a small ‘s.’ But it is saying that, in God’s divine choice, he places us on a spiritual level with him that is equal to him in our relationship and fellowship. And we should always fellowship with God and each other in gospel truth (Phil 1:5). God has chosen to place us in the same dimension that he is in. This is why Jesus calls us friends – we are on the same plain that he is on. We are one with him. Nothing in us deserves this, or even reflects this! It is just simply the declaration of God!
Now Let’s Return to the Subject of Love
Recall we talked about not being able to love others who are not equal to us. Well, let me ask this: what about God? Is he equal to us?
Of course he’s not! At least he’s not in any type of human thinking that we can invent or manufacture. Even when we come into the revelation that God is IN us, and we are IN him, this still doesn’t say that we are equal with God. It even seems sacrilegious to say that we are equal with God.
And I don’t go around saying this, believe me! It is something that is becoming reality in my spirit, but I’d never go so far as to declare it to others. Maybe it’s just weak faith in me!
But the reality is we really can’t love God – not the way he wants us to love him intimately as Abba Father – because we are not equal with him. He is so far above us, in our human thinking, that approaching him even seems strange. I say again: in our human thinking.
But now we come to gospel truth, which is a totally different side of the coin. It’s so different it’s not even the same coin. Gospel truth says, “Don’t think it is wrong to consider yourself equal with God.”
Wow! Human thinking and gospel thinking are sure different. My mind does need to be transformed totally if I’m going to believe this, doesn’t it? In fact, I may need a brain transplant! But when we truly
being to believe gospel truth – no matter how hard it is to believe – then we are transformed. We are conformed to the image of Christ, and begin thinking like our Abba Father God does (Rom 8:29).
Our brains may be on jet-lag, and may take awhile to catch up. But if we’ve made the decision we are going to believe every word that comes from the mouth of God, then we’ve got to at least CONSIDER it. If we don’t, we’re just like stiff-necked Jews who couldn’t enter God’s rest because of unbelief (read the last part of Hebrews 3).
“For unto us was the GOSPEL preached, as well as unto them, but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith (and belief) in them that heard it” (Heb 4:2). It doesn’t profit us either if we don’t believe it. The gospel totally stretches our belief beyond all
human endurance, just like it did Abraham and Noah. Things of God go beyond all we can think or even imagine (Eph 3:20). They are MEANT to go beyond the reasoning of our minds.
If we don’t see ourselves, at least in a small corner of our mind, as being on an equal dimension with God, then we can’t really LOVE God like we’re told we must. We can respect him, and think he’s awesome. We can praise him and worship him. We can pray to him and call upon him. But LOVING someone so unequal with us is humanly impossible. This is why Father sent Jesus: so we could learn to relate to him on more of a human level, and not on such a God level.
This is also why Father gave us Paul, and chose to relate to us through Paul, instead of through the other apostles who had walked and talked with Jesus. We could always say they had an earthly relationship with God that we don’t have, and will never have, at least until Christ returns. But we can’t say this about Paul. Paul had to learn to relate to Abba Father God, to his Son Jesus, and to the Holy Spirit the exact say way that we have to: by faith, belief and trust.
Who Should We See When We Look Into a Mirror?
This is really a double-whammy after we work through Philippians 2:5-6. In the natural this question is easy, and it even sounds stupid. Of course we see OURSELVES. Who else would we see?
But speaking gospel truth, Paul says what we see in the mirror is ‘the glory of the Lord’ (II Cor 3:18).
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I look in the mirror in the morning, I sure don’t see the glory of the Lord. I see a sleepy guy with his eyes half closed, his hair a mess, who needs to brush his teeth and take a shower to help wake up.
Did Paul spend too much time in the sun when he said this?
But then this verse doesn’t stop here, but goes on to say that we are changed into the same image of the glory of God. So when I look into the mirror, if I see it in gospel truth, I’m being changed into the very image of God himself.
I Peter 1:9-11 says the Old Testament prophets saw the GRACE that would come to us, and the GLORY that would come to us because of the sufferings of Christ (the cross). Paul says much the same thing when he says God predestined us to be conformed to the image of his Son. These describe the same type of equality that Philippians does.
We Are A New Creation in Christ (II Cor 5:17)
Think about this verse, and what it implies. We are a new creation in God, meaning we’re more than human, at least in the eyes of God, maybe not in the eyes of the world. But how we see, in gospel truth, makes the difference.
As a new creation, we are a new species. We are still human, but there is a big part of us that is not human. If we truly are IN GOD, as
Jesus says, this would make sense. As a new species we’re a GodMan (no sexual distinction intended). This would go along with the thought that we are in the image, and in the form of God.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us: we are his sons and daughters” (I John 3:1). This is not just a ‘covenant term,’ as we saw was the meaning of FRIEND. Instead, this is also a ‘family term.’ We are part of the family of God, along with those who are in heaven, and we are all ONE in the eyes and thoughts of God (Eph 3:15).
Thinking the thoughts of God and believing the words of God in his gospel are what translate into his Kingdom, at least in the spiritual sense (Col 1:13). As we see the reality of this, then we are taken out from the darkness of All the Light We Do Not See, and allow ‘the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, to shine into us.’ This drives Satan berserk because Paul says in II Corinthians 4:4 that it’s his biggest agenda to blind our minds to believing the gospel.